Requirements for the CPA Exam

A successful career in public accounting after graduating from business school is an exciting opportunity, but becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) does come with rules and regulations. One of the biggest hurdles to becoming a CPA is qualifying to take the CPA exam.

Requirements differ according to the state in which the applicant plans to work as a CPA, but there are uniform areas that are addressed in the eligibility determination.


Each state sets a minimum number of credit hours that an individual must obtain prior to applying for the CPA exam. Some states require a bachelor of business, but other states require a minimum of 150 hours of coursework with the possibility of a master’s degree being necessary.

A significant amount of this coursework must be associated with accounting, finance, general business, marketing and economics. Between 24 and 36 credits in the subject of accounting may be required in some states.

State Residency and U.S. Citizenship Requirements

Residency and citizenship are not always requirements that must be met prior to taking the CPA exam. Business school graduates should research specific state regulations in order to ensure that they are eligible to take the exam without being a resident of the state or a citizen of the United States.


The minimum age for an individual to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam is 18.

Application and Exam Fees

Every state sets a fee that an individual must send with their application in order for the application to be processed. The application fee is generally around $100, so it is important for a person to ensure eligibility prior to applying.

The exam itself requires a payment for each section of the exam. There are four sections, and most states set a fee of approximately $200 for each section.

After the Exam: Additional Requirements for Obtaining a CPA

Passing the CPA exam is a significant accomplishment for any accountant, but it is not the only hurdle that needs to be crossed before obtaining a CPA license. Most states require accountants to work a minimum of one year under the direct supervision of a CPA before being awarded the designation.

Continuing education is a requirement that keeps a CPA license active. Individuals who do not pursue seminars, workshops or other opportunities that are officially a part of the continuing education program in the state in which the individual works as a CPA will have to deal with a lapsed license.

Seminars and workshops that can be attended in order to fulfill this requirement are typically organized by a professional organization of accountants.

Taking the CPA exam can open up a world of opportunities for business school graduates, but individuals should know whether they qualify to sit for the exam before spending the money and time associated with a CPA exam application. In addition to completing the CPA exam, most states require job experience and continuing education in order for a person to obtain and maintain a CPA license.